Frank Giampietro, dressed as Abraham Lincoln, recites the Gettysburg Address to a crowd of veterans at the First Congregational Church in Wilton on Saturday, Nov. 11, in honor of Veterans Day. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

WILTON — First Congregational Church, located at 386 Main Street, was host to a special Veterans Day program on Saturday, Nov. 11. Wilton Ecumenical Community Outreach [WECO] brought patriotic music and a guest speaker in the form of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by Farmington local Frank Giampietro, who recited the Gettysburg Address.

Church Clerk Donna Peare got the presentation rolling by sharing the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day, two national holidays whose meanings are commonly confused.

“According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Memorial Day is the day we honor those who give the ultimate sacrifice,” she said. “Veterans Day is for living veterans.”

Peare added that Rev. David Smith was not able to attend due to an injury he had sustained the previous week. Rev. John Balicki of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Wilton opened the ceremony with a prayer.

Sammie Angel performs for veterans at First Congregational Church in Wilton on Saturday, Nov. 11. She performed “More Than A Name On A Wall” by the The Statler Brothers, which she dedicated to her brother. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

Wilton native Sammie Angel performed a number of patriotic tunes, including “Some Gave All” by Billy Ray Cyrus and “More Than A Name On A Wall” by the The Statler Brothers, the latter of which Angel dedicated to her brother. She began her performance by opening with “I Wish I Was in Dixie”, which was a favorite of President Lincoln.

During the performance, Angel took a small break while Giampietro took the stage adorned in a top hat and bow tie and spoke in character as our nation’s 16th president.


“This afternoon, as part of this Veterans Day observance, we stepped back into the autumn of 1863,” he began. “The Civil War was raging, dividing families and states. It was a time of deep uncertainty with the outcome of the war still in doubt. Just four and a half months earlier, in July, the Battle of Gettysburg had unfolded, proving to be one of the most crucial and bloodiest battles in the war.

“Over 50,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, or went missing on those fields,” he continued. “A grim testament of the conflict’s brutality. This was the backdrop against which I spoke at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery at Gettysburg. My remarkably brief address occurred when the union needed a renewal of spirit and purpose.

“The Confederacy, despite suffering significant losses at Gettysburg, was far from defeated, and the war’s end was not yet in sight. My words that day more than commemorates the fallen. They reinvigorated the union’s resolve. I reframed the war as not just a struggle to preserve the nation, but as a fight for the very principles of freedom and equality.”

Giampietro recited the address and upon conclusion, removed his top hat and began sharing famous Lincoln quotes with those in attendance. Angel shared her quote, stating “I have come to the conclusion never again to think of marrying, and for this reason, I can never be satisfied with anyone who would be blockhead enough to have me.”

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